RUSH (1991)

maxresdefault

Christopher

I had never heard of Rush before but I think it was after we watched Narc that Elizabeth recommended we watch it. I’m really glad we did ‘cause I thought this movie was great and grabbed me from the beginning.

I found this movie to be very smart. There is a story throughout but then, there kind of isn’t. There is a love story going on but it’s based off unfortunate circumstances. I thought the acting was great and something I actually really enjoyed about this film was the art in the main character’s house. He has this one, painting I believe, of two naked women siting down staring at each other. Both voluptuous and possibly twins. It was beautiful; I wonder where that piece is now.

In high school I was super into drug movies (i. e. Spun, Fear and Loathing, Blow) and I really wish I had seen this back then. I think some people would find this film boring but I think it’s a film that you watch and get more out of it by thinking of it after.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

There was a trailer for Rush on a VHS we had when I was a kid, though I have no idea which one. But I always loved the trailer; I thought this movie looked so crazy and sad and romantic even though I had absolutely no idea what it was about (either the trailer didn’t really tell you or I was too young). I also remember the bearded guy (Jason Patric) being hugely fat, which was never the case, so who knows what that’s about. But anyway, I always wanted to see Rush even though it looked a little scary. When I first moved to Austin and could finally afford to give myself cable I got IFC and they played Rush the first weekend I had it. So I finally watched it and had no idea what to expect. And I loved it.

Watching movies about relationships now are a lot different for me than they were a few years ago. I understood everything but it wasn’t until I met Chris that I could really understand what these relationships meant and how one person can really be everything to you. So when I first saw Rush, their relationship made sense but not nearly as much sense as it did this time around.

What’s also crazy is that Rush is based on a true story (and follows the true story to a T up to a certain point) but they never really tell you that. It seems like so many movies rely on the “based on a true story” thing so much that it was interesting that Rush didn’t. And what’s extra crazy is that the real story took place in Tyler, Texas, where my grandmother lives and the last place I would expect a crazy undercover cop drug story to unfold.

So Patric plays Jim, a longtime undercover narcotics cop. He’s told by his boss, Dodd (Sam Elliott) that he needs a partner and he picks Kristen (Jennifer Jason Leigh) out of a group of new recruits. What I liked is that when Jim picks Kristen, he doesn’t really test her – like mess with her or anything to see how she would react. Instead he immediately takes her under his wing and is completely honest and straightforward with her. He emphasizes that in the undercover situations they’re going to be in, they will be all they have. In one scene I particularly like, Jim and Kristen are practicing shooting guns and Jim asks if her application was true when she said she only smoked a couple of joints in college. Her answer to him is very interview-y, like she was trying to give the “correct” answer and not reveal too much. Jim catches that and tells her that “It’s just us,” (they’re also literally in the middle of nowhere) and he needs her to be honest with him, that this is about them, not about the job. I just thought that was interesting.

Jim also has to sort of train Kristen; as undercover cops there are certain things they just can’t do and things that they must do. Smoking joints, snorting a tiny bit of cocaine to test it at a drug buy, that’s all okay. But they don’t shoot up, not really. Instead Jim brings his “own shit” with him, which is liquefied baby laxative that he shoots up instead when he needs to look like he’s doing heroin. Their main assignment is to nail Will Gaines, the owner of a popular bar where everyone seems to go to make drug deals. Jim and Kristen’s bosses are convinced that Gaines is a drug dealer (and “pornographer” which I think may have had a different meaning in 1970s Tyler, Texas than it does now) and they want them to catch him in the act, along with anyone else they get drugs from along the way. So basically Jim and Kristen get money from the police, they buy tons of drugs everyday, pack them up and label them as evidence and turn them over.

At one buy, though, the dealer will not let them leave until they both shoot up the heroin they’re buying. Kristen watches terrified as Jim shoots up and reacts immediately (it’s like someone hit him over the head), and they both try to get Kristen out of having to do it. But the dealer is pointing a gun at them, so without too much hesitation Jim sets everything up for Kristen; he wraps up her arm and gets the needle and shoots up for her while they both just stare into each other’s eyes. It’s a really super intense scene and also made me think that this must have been what that D.A.R.E. officer who visited my fifth grade class was talking about when he said we should never do drugs unless a gun is pointed at us.

So Jim and Kristen are pretty much hooked from that point on. The morning after they buy the heroin they both talk about how they liked the feeling it gave them. They each start sampling from the evidence little by little, semi-hiding it from each other. At this point, they’re also in love. It’s not exactly the healthiest foundation for a relationship, but it’s also easy to see how it’s practically unavoidable; in public they act like a couple to buy drugs, they live together, and their lives essentially depend on each other. Plus they’re both good looking.

But the deeper undercover they go, the deeper shit they get themselves into. They become more and more addicted and at one point when Jim is going through a hellish withdrawal and Kristen goes to Dodd for help, and he tells her that the case is very important and they can just take a few days off. He’s telling her this while her partner is practically dying of withdrawal caused by their police assignment, so you can imagine that felt pretty cold. Kristen and Jim meet with Dodd and Dodd’s boss, Nettle, to figure out a game plan moving forward. Kristen and Jim are convinced that Gaines isn’t selling drugs because they can’t even get remotely close to him selling drugs or really doing anything illegal. Despite that fact and the fact that they are desperate to get out of the job, they’re told the investigation has to continue until they get Gaines. Kristen asks if they’re suggesting they plant evidence and Nettle tells her that they need to do whatever they need to do to get the job done. So on one hand, Jim and Kristen have to get out of this situation that could easily kill them one way or another. But on the other hand, the only way to do that is to plant and falsify evidence. The pressure and their addictions turn out to be too much to keep going, so they plant the evidence.

Jim and Kristen are commended for their work and bravery and are turned into local celebrities, all the while knowing they lied. And it seems like they may get away with it, maybe, until a shotgun barrel is pointed at Kristen’s face as she sleeps on the couch of the mobile home she’s now sharing with Jim. She pushes the barrel away and Jim is shot in the thigh as the shooter runs away without anyone seeing him. The rest of the scene is just miserable and heartbreaking; Kristen runs to a neighbor for help who turns her away but tells her that they’ve called the police. So Kristen has no real choice but to run back to the trailer and cradle Jim’s head in her hands as he dies. She’s hysterical as she holds him, crying and screaming, and you can tell how heartbroken and terrified she is.

After Jim’s death, Kristen quits the police force but can’t bring herself to testify against Gaines at his trial, leading all of the lies to and coercion to come out. In the very end, Gaines is murdered by someone hiding in his car with a shotgun, and though we never see who it is I think we’re supposed to assume it’s Kristen, just as we’re probably supposed to assume it was Gaines who killed Jim.

Eric Clapton did all the music for Rush (which sometimes does sound a little cheesy) and there’s a scene after Jim’s death where Kristen is testifying to someone about the case wearing all black, no makeup, and tears in her eyes. The scene sort of melts into another as Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” starts and we see Kristen running down the beach. It sounds like it’s a potentially corny scene, but it’s so beautiful and if “Tears in Heaven” doesn’t at least choke you up a little then you might be a psychopath.

I really think Rush is just crazy and beautiful. It’s insanely stressful and even though I think it’s always in the back of your mind that this is not going to end well for at least one of our heroes, in the end the story is really devastating for pretty much all concerned. In a big way this puts cops in a terrible light, but in a less obvious way it also shows the extreme sacrifice and hardships cops will put themselves through because they think it’s the right thing to do, even if in the end it was really for nothing.

CON AIR (1997)

nicholas-cage-con-air

Elizabeth

When we watch a narrative film there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. It’s expected and as an avid movie watcher, I’ve never had a problem with that. Until it’s too much to ask. Let me tell you the series of events that begins Con Air.

Nicolas Cage is Cameron Poe, an Army ranger who is back home from . . .somewhere. We basically first see him on a dock staring into a bar, where it turns out his wife, Tricia (Monica Potter) works. His wife is pregnant but extremely thin, which makes one wonder who got her pregnant since they act like they haven’t seen each other in years. Anyway, even though Poe is in full uniform, he’s immediately accosted by some drunk assholes. Because I think everyone knows that men in full military uniform are probably the biggest targets of harrassments in neighborhood bars. They shoo them away long enough to enjoy their night together but the men follow them to their car when they go to leave for the night. Really, Poe and Tricia could have easily still driven away at this point since they were both in the car. But Poe gets out and decides to fight. While he’s being attached, Poe punches one of them in the nose and kills them instantly. I’m assuming it’s one of those punch-in-the-nose-so-the-bone-stabs-the-brain punches that I heard about so much as a kid, but we never really get an explanation. Not that it matters because next time we see Poe it’s at his sentencing. He gets 7-10 years for manslaughter. Further, the judge gives him that much time because as a former Army ranger, his body is a deadly weapon and therefore . . . he has to pay more for what he did? Sooooooo in this world:

– When you leave the army they drop you off in a boat directly in front of where you need to be

– Civilians hate members of the armed forces

– Self-defense doesn’t exist

– A judge can willy-nilly decide to up your sentence based on the fact that you used to be in the army and that makes you more dangerous

So by the time we see Poe in prison, I have no idea what world we’re in. We’re not in the real world for the above reasons. The rest of the movie doesn’t help.

After being in prison for eight years, Poe is let out on parole. He’s never met his daughter because he didn’t want her to see him in prison (ugh). Poe is being flown to Alabama to be released (once they parole you do they not just let you go? I truly don’t know the answer but it seems weird that he would get paroled and then have to be on a hellplane with non-parolees) but is sharing a plane with prisoners who are not getting paroled but are rather getting sent to a crazy super super super maximum security prison. So on this aircraft you have a nice mix of people like Poe, out on parole for manslaughter, and Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi), a serial killer and possible cannibal. Because that sounds like a nice mix of gentlemen that will get along well! Also included are Cyrus “Cyrus The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich), some kind of criminal mastermind; Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones (Ving Rhames) whom is somehow related to politics but is also a crazy criminal so I don’t really understand what his deal was; Johnny-23 (Danny Trejo), called that because he’s raped 23 women.

U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin (John Cusack) is overseeing this whole operation, which makes one wonder if he’s the most psychotic one of all. Because it reallyyyyy doesn’t take long for a riot to start, allowing Cyrus, Diamond Dog, Johnny-23 and others to be set free, further allowing Cyrus to kill the co-pilot and force the pilot to say everything is okay. There’s also a scary element where they have a female prison guard on board (another brilliant/psychotic decision by Larkin?) who, once the prisoners are freed, is under constant threat of rape by Johnny-23. Luckily, none of the other prisoners are okay with rape (she really kinda lucked out on that part) and they just all try to keep him off her. It’s just weird and scary. Oh yeah, there’s an undercover cop on board, too, but he gets killed pretty quickly. He did have a tape recorder on him, though, and Poe finds it. The plane is going to make a stop in Carson City for yet another criminal mastermind (this time a drug lord, Francisco Cindino) and afterward Cyrus has the plane head for a small airport where Cindino is arranging for all the prisoners to be picked up and taken to a non-extradiction country. A bunch of stuff happens and then everyone, including Larkin, ends up at the small airport. Larkin and Poe know they’re on the same side at this point. More shit happens, Poe and the rest of the prisoners leave the airport when they realize that Cindino had tricked them and a plane wasn’t coming for them. The prisoners then find out that Poe is a parolee and not a crazy psycho so they want to kill him. Luckily, the plane gets shot and is forced to crash land on the Las Vegas strip . . . so not exactly a super successful end to shooting the plane down. But, eventually, the bad guys all get killed and/or captured, Poe gets reunited with Tricia and meets his daughter.

Haha oh yeah, except for Garland Greene, who escaped and we last see playing in a casino. Happy endings for all! . . . except for the people that Greene will inevitably murder now that he’s out of prison. They kinda got screwed by the system.

This whole movie is so outlandish, even for an action movie. It’s hard for me sympathize or empathize with characters that are either entirely evil or caught in a world with rules that don’t make sense. I also got the impression that Cage’s long hair was supposed to make him look more like a badass but it was actually just distractingly gross and terrible. Also, Nicolas Cage’s idea of a Southern accent is apparently mimicking Scarlett O’Hara.

Christopher

I’ve really never thought much of this film. It was something I saw part of cause TBS and/or TNT used to play it all the time but I always found it very boring and uneventful. Watching it again I kind of felt the same way but I think watching it as, this is a terrible movie, instead of, this is a movie adults talk about a lot which must mean it’s good, brought out parts of this film I didn’t really notice before.

The movie is so full of holes and unnecessary issues it’s pretty funny. The whole story is about a giant plane that prisoners can’t escape from and within moments of it taking off the prisons are in control. And of course you have the great Nic Cage trying to do some 18th-century southern voice.

I wouldn’t really recommend this movie as I still find it to be a bit boring a slow but I’m glad I watched it with Elizabeth!

THE CHANGELING (1980)

the-changeling-8

Christopher

When I was young I was a very scared child. Mostly about the thought of death; I had many nights where I just thought way too much about what happens after life, but in the same mindset I was unable to watch any horror movies. They just scared me way too much and would cause me to have many a restless night. I mean it kind of lasted until the end of high school. Even in high school, watching an episode of CSI would get me freaked out enough not to want to go to bed. So now that I’m adult, it’s nice to know that scary movies kind of don’t exist to me anymore. Maybe it’s cause Elizabeth and I watch so many but no matter how scary a movie is now it never leaves my mind that it’s just a movie. It’s really nice and I wish I was able to feel that way when I was young.

The Changeling is a movie that took me many years to have the courage to watch. My dad always listed it as one of his favorite horror/suspense movies he had ever seen. I watched it for the first time alone, in the dark basement of my parents’ house, sometime in high school. It scared me so much but I remember being proud of getting through it.

Since that time I have watched this movie a lot. I agree with my dad and it’s one of my favorite horror/ghost/suspense movies. And to be frank it’s all because of George C. Scott. That man is as bad fucking ass as they come. I think the first movie I saw and knew he was one of my favorite actors in was Patton. He’s great in it and there are a lot of scenes from that film that stuck with me. In The Changeling, he is a father who loses his wife and daughter in a car accident. He then moves into a giant house to work on his music. He’s a conductor and writes music himself. As he lives in this house stuff starts to happen to indicate that the house is haunted. The best part about the film once that starts happening is what Scott does. Instead of trying to run and just leave the house behind, he stays and tries to figure out what’s going on. AWESOME! Why the fuck would he let some undead shit tell him where he can and cannot live! It’s funny thinking about that because in so many movies I have the exact opposite reaction to people not leaving a dangerous situation but in The Changeling it works!

The film from there turns into a kind of murder mystery and you follow Scott trying to get to the bottom of it. I think this movie is fantastic and touched on a lot of things I like about movies in general. I mean the house it takes place in is gorgeous and I think the cinematography and music are big pluses about this film.

WATCH THIS!!!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

The Changeling is freaky but really more than that it’s just sad. It opens with John (George C. Scott) losing his wife and young daughter in a car accident. I thought this scene was a little confusing at first because he looked so much older than his wife I assumed he was the father/grandfather. But anyway, he watches them get hit by a car as it runs off the road in the snow before he can get to them, so it’s pretty horrific. The memories in their New York apartment seem to be too much, so he moves to Seattle and rents a giant, old,  not-at-all-haunted-looking mansion. Now, I’m not sure why a single guy would feel the need to rent this giant house. The one thing going for it is it has a music room and John is a piano player. But still, seems like a weird choice.

Especially when it most definitely is haunted. He starts hearing noises, windows start breaking, and he finds a weird bedroom in the attic where it looks like someone hid an unwanted kid. His friend Claire (Trish Van Devere) sets up a seance, where the medium goes into a trance and starts constantly scribbling on paper, waiting for the ghost to use her and turn her scribbling into words. That was the first time I’d seen that in a seance scene, so I thought that was interesting. Turns out the ghost is a little boy, the one who lived in the attic, who was murdered by his father. John digs a little and finds out there used to be a very wealthy, prominent family, the Carmichaels, who lived there at the beginning of the century. Joseph Carmichael was their son, who was weak and sickly and inherited the family fortune after the death of his mother. Except her will stipulated that if Joseph died before he was 21, the money would go to charity – not Joseph’s father. So Joseph’s father did what anyone would do in that situation: he drowned Joseph, adopted a healthy orphan boy of the same age and called him Joseph and took him to Europe for seven years as a coverup, saying that they’re going for treatment but really just to let time pass so no one would question the new Joseph when they returned.

The medium tells John that Joseph is reaching out to him because Joseph can sense John’s sadness and loss. There’s something about that that’s so sad to me; Joseph wasn’t really tormenting John (he just kinda was on accident), he was trying to appeal to John so he would help him. And the fact that John had watched his daughter die around the same age as Joseph makes it easy to understand where he’s coming from. So John tries to help Joseph, particularly when he figures out where Joseph’s body is and finds it, along with his “birth medal” (didn’t know that was thing . . .). John confronts the fake Joseph Carmichael, now an old senator, with the medal, but Joseph turns him away, though we find out he’s wearing an identical medal. So Joseph sends a cop to John’s house to get the medal back and John rightly sends the cop back because he doesn’t have a search warrant . . . aaaaand then the cop is killed in a mysterious car crash.

So then John confronts Joseph again, for real, and tells him the whole story, but Joseph doesn’t believe him so John leaves and leaves all of the evidence against Joseph’s father with Joseph. Back at John’s house, the ghost of the real Joseph goes a little nuts; he causes Claire to fall down the stairs, John to fall out a window, and sets the house on fire. Meanwhile, the senator starts to have visions of what really happened, finally understanding the truth of what his father did, and has a heart attack and dies (kinda understandable).

So in the end, it sort of worked out? Ghost Joseph got what he wanted, which was for the truth to come out, so that’s good. But damn, that fucking sucks for the senator Joseph, who really didn’t do anything wrong. And it sucks for John, who is now homeless and his wife and daughter are still dead. I like to think that helping Joseph helped John to heal a little bit, but we never really get a sense if that’s true or not.

Overall, this was really good. It didn’t have a perfectly neat, tight ending, but it didn’t really have to. I think my favorite scene was the seance, though; there was something so realistic about it, which is hard to pull off when the scene is impossible in real life to begin with. When Chris first mentioned The Changeling I assumed he meant Changeling, the 2008 Clint Eastwood movie starring Angelina Jolie. That’s one I’ve seen before and is about a woman whose son goes missing and then turns up again, but she knows it’s not her real son. It was kind of cool to understand why both movies have almost the same titles but are so different, because they’re both about a weird situation where the wrong kid comes back.